Friday, July 23, 2010

A Burning Heart

I know it has been a while since I’ve written, but home has been a bit difficult these last couple months.

As mentioned before, I am now living with someone with GERD. What is GERD, you might ask? Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is where the stomach leaks food and liquids backwards which can cause tremendous heartburn, discomfort and sometimes symptoms you’d never expect from a little indigestion.

Yes, it is true that heartburn can feel like a heart attack, so don't hesitate with contacting 911 if you think it may not be indigestion.

Ok, so it wasn’t just a little indigestion, but heartburn so bad that she went for months getting only about two to three hours of sleep, in a recliner at that. While I tried to sleep in bed, she’d be pacing the floor thinking of waking me up to drive her to the ER.

On top of this thrilling experience, we have learned that Joanne’s breast cancer has come back and metastasized in her bones and several lymph nodes in and around the lungs. So, things have been exciting, to say the least.

This has all been going on as the garden was being planted, the plants have been growing and we are now starting to harvest loads of things such as cucumbers, herbs, peppers. The farm markets around us have lots of great produce and corn arrived about three weeks ago in time for the Fourth of July holiday!

Cooking for someone with GERD is an adventure. Even on the little purple pill, Joanne is occasionally having difficulty with certain foods. They found her system empties slowly and have put her on another medication to up that action. Along with the side effect of tardive dyskinesia – uncontrolled muscle movements especially of the lower face, that once they start they don’t necessarily go away – is the possibility that your metabolism may work faster causing weight loss. Let’s see…put these on the scale of life and which outweighs which?

After some time of making scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, rice, noodles and broth for dinner, it became apparent that neither of us could live off this diet.

It wasn’t until the Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival that we saw she was getting better. She decided to just say the hell with the cautions and ate her way through the event. She didn’t have any wine or alcohol of any kind, but went from table to table tasting everything from shrimp and grits to beef sliders and ceviche. Her day ended with a piece of tiramisu and my head spinning with thoughts of rushing her to the hospital.

With no ill results from the escapade, we started to just eat again. It has really been a trial and error course of events with some decent discoveries of trigger foods. The biggest we’ve found is of course acidic foods. Not all, just certain ones.

Vinegar, most notably balsamic; causing some burning that lasts a few hours. Tomatoes, don’t seem to cause that reaction, but I’m limited in the use of vinegar and lemon juice as well.

Garlic and onions can be issues, especially if raw, but I’ve found using a microplane grater seems to help with the garlic. Maybe having it so miniscule is the key? Go figure.

So, right now we are still tippy-toeing on eggshells with most foods, although pizza is a go as well as grilled cheese, sautéed and stir fried foods and even an occasional French fry.

As for the breast cancer rearing its ugly head, we are seeing an awesome oncologist and even though its in the bones and lungs, they are treating like breast cancer. Joanne’s cancer is estrogen sensitive, so hormonal therapy is being started with an infusion of Zometa. We feel this is the best of the worst diagnoses we could have been given and are taking prayers, positive thoughts, mantras, chants, and all other forms of good will openly and encourage it right now.

Will try and keep up with this as we move along through the summer and fall…